Bruce Anstey tops Lightweight practice times at Classic TT on competitive return to Mountain Course

Dean Harrison topped the Superbike times on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki ZXR750. Picture: Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press.
Dean Harrison topped the Superbike times on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki ZXR750. Picture: Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press.
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Bruce Anstey made a stunning return to the Mountain Course as the New Zealander topped the Lightweight times during Monday’s curtailed Classic TT practice session.

Anstey is back in action after battling serious illness but it was as if the ‘Flying Kiwi’ was never away as he posted the quickest lap of 116.28mph on his second lap on Clive Padgett’s Honda RS250.

Bruce Anstey is back in action around the Mountain Course at the Classic TT after missing the past two seasons through illness. Picture: Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press.

Bruce Anstey is back in action around the Mountain Course at the Classic TT after missing the past two seasons through illness. Picture: Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press.

He will concentrate on Saturday’s Lightweight race as he makes his competitive road racing comeback after missing the past two seasons.

On his last appearance at the Classic TT, Anstey set the first ever 120mph lap by a 250cc machine as he romped to victory in the Lightweight race in 2017.

A smiling Anstey said: “It was great to get out and on the second lap things clicked and it felt like normal, as though I’d never been away.”

Team boss Padgett said he was ‘over the moon’ with Anstey’s ‘incredible’ return.

Bruce Anstey on the Milenco by Padgett's Honda RS250 at Ballacraine during Monday's Lightweight practice session at the Classic TT. Picture: Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press.

Bruce Anstey on the Milenco by Padgett's Honda RS250 at Ballacraine during Monday's Lightweight practice session at the Classic TT. Picture: Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press.

“I’m just over the moon. We said to Bruce before the lap if you’re not feeling it we’ll pick you up at Ballacraine. He’s loving life – it’s incredible,” said Padgett.

“He was smiling from the off and all the fans are so pleased to see him back and we’ve had so many great comments.”

Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston, who won the Lightweight race last year, was an early retirement on his Binch Racing Yamaha 250 at Douglas Road corner.

Dean Harrison was second fastest in the class at 114.28mph on the LayLaw Yamaha ahead of team-mate Ian Lougher, who clocked 112.59mph. Harrison did one lap on the Yamaha before pulling in with a quick-shifter issue.

Senior TT winner Harrison headed the Classic Superbike times on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki at 123.42mph from a standing start. The 30-year-old did not complete a flying lap after signalling that the exhaust had come loose on his ZXR750.

Harrison, who was in action in Sunday’s British Superbike meeting at Cadwell Park, said: “I’ve come straight from Cadwell and BSB to the Classic TT. The ZXR isn’t such a big jump but riding the 250 is chalk and cheese.

“I’ve not got much experience of the two-stroke but you’ve got to respect the little thing because it will bite you.”

Horst Saiger (Greenall Kawasaki) was second fastest in the Superbike session with a speed of 122.87mph.

Jamie Coward was third on the Prez/Kraus Kawasaki (120.70mph) followed by Derek Sheils in fourth, who managed 118.38mph on the second of the Greenall Kawasaki machines.

Retirements on the opening lap included Ulsterman Paul Jordan on the Mistral Racing Kawasaki, who stopped at Ballacrye, while Gary Johnson (Team York Suzuki) retired on his second lap at Quarterbridge.

The Junior and Senior machines left Glencrutchery Road around 7.10pm with John McGuinness on the Winfield Paton and Ripley Land Racing’s Michael Rutter on the single-cylinder Matchless jostling for position on the start line.

However, shortly afterwards the session was red-flagged following an incident at the Black Hut. The rider involved was taken by airmed to Nobles Hospital with a reported leg injury.

Riders were brought back to the Grandstand in the direction of the course by the travelling marshals.

It was later confirmed that no further action would take place due to a heavy rain shower at Brandish coupled with fading light.

Roads are due to close this evening at 6pm with the Lightweight and Superbike Classic TT machines due out at 6.20pm followed by the Senior and Junior bikes at approximately 7.15pm.